Australian swimming great Michael Klim has opened up about the struggles he faces day to day after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder in 2020.
Klim was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), which according to the Brain Foundation “is a neurological disorder that results in slowly progressive weakness and loss of feeling in the legs and arms”.
The former Olympian took to his blog in July 2022, where he opened up about living with the condition while revealing that he had been diagnosed two years ago after “dealing with chronic ankle problems and degenerative back issues for quite some time”.
He made the surprising admission in an effort to raise awareness for those impacted by the condition.
“Over two years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) which is a neurological disorder condition that targets your body’s nerves, especially the areas of the arms, hands, legs, and feet,” he revealed.
“Symptoms aren’t the same for everyone but in my case, it has affected my legs and feet.”
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Now in a recent interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Klim has opened up about how he has coped with the condition on a daily basis since receiving the earth-shattering diagnosis.
“My counsellor and I have come up with a strategy where I give myself an hour a day to feel sorry for myself,” Klim told the publication.
“I can whinge as much as I want and feel down, but after that, then there are still a lot of things I can do and be functional and still have responsibilities as a parent and a coach and as a partner, and I can still do them effectively.
“I am trying to not let it consume me completely. But it’s hard.”
The 45-year-old admitted that he experienced a “grieving process” as he struggled to accept the diagnosis and “to a degree the fear is still there”.
“I think I am a bit better, in the sense I have accepted – to a degree – that these are the cards I have been dealt,” Klim said.
“But I am still working through it. When we experience grief, you don’t just go one day, ‘I am fine, I am better now’. It affects you for much longer, and particularly because it is in my face daily.
“There was a fear because I got bad really quickly. I am now in a remission, stable phase. But there is a fear I may go again at the same rate and if I degrade that quickly again, I probably will need assistance with walking and things like that.”
Moving forward, Klim is focused on the launch of his foundation which will work to raise funds for CIDP research and awareness about the condition.
“That’s definitely a big motivating factor for me now and I am putting a lot of thought and effort into that now,” he said.
“I am working hard to not focus on the things I can’t do anymore.
“I have to focus on the things I can do.”